Ducati Receives More Sponsorship For MotoGP Program

So far this year, the news from MotoGP has been almost uniformly terrible. Kawasaki announced their pullout, the satellite teams managers have all chimed in on the need to cut costs, and the MSMA has met to discuss rule changes meant to reduce the expense of MotoGP. The air is full of doom and gloom, and and MotoGP commentators sound almost uniformly like Cassandra, predicting the imminent demise of the series.

So the announcement by Ducati that two of their sponsors have extended their deals comes as a breath of fresh air, a moment of cheer in these otherwise dark times. Italian energy giant Enel will continue the deal with Ducati which sees its logos displayed on the bikes, riders, and riders helmets of the factory team. Even better news is that Riello UPS, an Italian maker of UPS equipment, will be expanding its sponsorship of Ducati, in a program which has seen its investment in the team grow over the past three years.

Securing extra funding for a MotoGP team is always good news, but what makes it better is the fact that these are two companies from outside the motorcycle industry. If MotoGP is to survive in its current form, it is clear that what is required is more of this kind of outside sponsorship. Indeed, Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Corse, pointed out as much in his statement at Ducati's annual MotoGP press introduction at Madonna di Campiglio in Italy. "There are also lots of other companies who promote their products through motorcycle racing with the Ducati Marlboro Team such as Alfa Romeo, Gatorade and Puma. Of course these are tough times but there are still plenty of ways to make sure that the MotoGP World Championship remains a leading promotional vehicle," he told the press there. If Ducati can seize these opportunities, then maybe the other teams can too.

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"If MotoGP is to survive in its current form, it is clear that what is required is more of this kind of outside sponsorship."

AAAK! Who are you, Roger Edmondson?

MotoGP - motorcycle racing in general - needs outside sponsorship. There is not enough money inside the motorcycle industry to sustain motorcycle racing in either its present form, or even in a severely reduced form. Motorcycle racing needs money from outside the industry to keep going.

It's funny how everyone complains at the prospect of money coming in from outside the industry, then points back to the golden age of racing - the 70s and 80s. That era was fueled almost entirely by tobacco sponsorship - an industry, I might point out, that is as alien to motorcycles as energy drinks, banking, fast food, energy companies or software.

Racing without outside sponsorship is a zero sum game. The pool of money doesn't change and results will follow the most successful factories in the market. Without outside sponsorship, Ducati would never have the resources to go up against Honda or even Kawasaki. Without outside sponsorship, MotoGP might as well be the Honda cup.

Finally, something encouraging for '09! Psychologically, new / improved sponsorship deals are massively important, prompting other potential sponsors to wonder 'what do these guys know that maybe we don't?' as well as helping existing sponsors sell their participation to nervous shareholders.

Looked like a great vibe coming from the Wroom launch do by Ducati ( the silly dancing excepted..) and very good body language as well as press statements from Stoner and Hayden. Noticeable from the photos on MotoGp.com and the videos, that Stoner seemed to feel very non-threatened by Hayden and was happy to stand behind Hayden in many of the shots. O.K. we know he's fairly chronically shy but to me it suggests a level of confidence and also companionship that he doesn't seem to feel a need to impose a pecking order and presumably Ducati were happy to let things go naturally. Hayden must surely be feeling as though he has made the best possible move and one suspects he will be happy to be a loyal tail-gunner if Stoner has the extra speed over him, which is a luxury I think Rossi has NOT got for '09